Shane Walsh, a fifth year student at Davitt College in Castlebar, was named one of 20 finalists in the annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.
The awards programme, now in its fourth year, honours young people on the island of Ireland for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The programme is organised by Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD ) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI ).
Shane (17 ) was nominated for the award by his principal Bernadette Rowland, and will receive a Certificate of Achievement from a representative of The Pramerica Spirit of Community programme later this month.
On March 24, Shane and the 19 other finalists will be honoured at a gala awards dinner in Cork and will receive €500 and an engraved silver medallion, presented by Tyrone Senior Football Manager Mickey Harte. In addition, two of the finalists will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year at the awards dinner and will receive €1,000 for a charity they select, a gold medallion and an all expenses paid trip to the United States in May to take part in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
Shane was selected for the honour because of his commitment and dedication to his friend Cian who has special needs. Shane has become Cian’s constant caregiver at school and he must transfer Cian from a manual wheelchair to a powered wheelchair each morning and evening.
Cian’s family are delighted with how well Cian has fitted into school and greatly appreciate Shane’s help. While Cian clearly relies on Shane, it is evident that Shane also values the friendship. He said: “Cian and I have very interesting conversations. He is a really nice lad. Cian has made me realise and appreciate how lucky my friends and I are.”
Shane plans to do volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, who build houses for the poor in the Third World.